Thanksgiving is on the way! In a recent post I shared some tips and tricks on how to make your Thanksgiving stress free and do a bit of pre-planning and make things a lot easier on yourself in the end. Today I wanted to talk about planning a menu for your Thanksgiving celebration. Whether you are having, the all popular "Friends-giving" or planning your own family feast, planning is the key to a successful and happy celebration. The menu is not something that you should stress over. However you should have some cohesive idea about what direction you want your fall feast to take. These are my suggestions. Some are traditional and some are a bit offbeat. No matter what you do, make sure it is done with the style you love and for the people you love!
My first suggestion is to decide what your main protein will be for the meal. Turkey is the most popular choice however, there are people who (gasp!!!) don't like turkey! Some people have turkey and ham, some only ham, some a standing rib roast and even some have one type of seafood on the table, oysters, clams, or salmon for instance. Everything that you will serve will stem from this choice. Today we are going to go with the Turkey and Ham combo. That is what we love to have in our house. Now we can work on building the rest of the meal.
While your turkey or ham may be the star of the meal, the side dishes are certainly playing star supporting roles! Here is a list of some of our favorite side dishes that we will often enjoy for Thanksgiving. We would not have all of these, but maybe perhaps three or four. The truth is, it can be hard to whittle the choices down to just a few but then there are the lovely leftovers now aren't there?! Favorite Side Dishes Include:
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
Streusel Sweet Potato Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Green Beans Almondine
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Shredded Brussels sprout Salad
Cranberry sauce or jelly
That is a lot of sides to choose from and we really haven't even scratched the surface! If you host a number of guests and you ask them to bring a favorite dish, then you may end up with a lot of one thing or a selection of dishes that will make your head swim! Inevitably, you will have some sort of Jell-o mold and something you have to ask "Oh, my! What is this?" Then you will have to smile and say thank you and take another sip of wine or two!
As if all of that deliciousness wasn't enough, now it's time to consider dessert! Since my mom and I share a birthday on the 26th of the month and my daughter Molly celebrates hers on the 28th and since this year, Thanksgiving will actually fall on her birthday, there will most definitely be birthday cake on our table. Then there will be pumpkin pie, pecan pie and I will most likely make chess pie for later in the weekend. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving to me without chess pie! Dessert is always a personal choice for this celebration meal. Here are some favorites that we have had on our table in the past:
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Chocolate Ganache Cake
Mom's Crustless Cheesecake
New York Cheesecake
Mom's Strawberry Pretzel Jell-O (amazing!)
Again, just a few things that can be chosen from. What is your favorite? Always make what people love because you love them.
In the end Thanksgiving is, indeed a time to give thanks for what we have, which is each other. Not a time to give thanks for the "stuff" that we have that can sometimes pollute our lives and make us forget what is truly important. Being together and eating this meal is all that is needed to celebrate Thanksgiving. Bowing our head in thanks is the order of the day. No matter if you present chicken chow mein, lasagna, pizza or a stack of hot pockets, be sure to take a look around at those you surround yourself with and give thanks for them being in your life.
You can get wrapped up in the importance of making a meal for Thanksgiving and in the end there will still be a mess to clean up and dishes to load into the dishwasher. No matter what you cook, people are going to love it. You are going to make mistakes and that is no reason to not even try. If this is your first year preparing the big meal, don't worry! It will all be alright! Even if it isn't, you learn from your mistakes and you move on. I promise you won't ever make those mistakes again! Enjoy yourself, enjoy the process of making the meal and serving and eating the meal. Enjoy the people you surround yourself with on that day. You won't get these moments back. You get them once so make them last and make them memorable!
In closing I will give you a look at my holiday menu for this year. One of my favorites and it proves to be tried and true!
Maple & Cider Glazed Turkey with Sage
Cranberry, Apple Stuffing made with homemade stuffing bread
Steamed Green Beans
Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Maple Cranberry Relish
Yeast Dinner Rolls
I hope this is helpful to you in planning your Thanksgiving meal. I hope you learned something and I hope you never lose sight of what is really important on Thanksgiving. surrounding yourself with the people you care most about in the world!
Until Next time, I'll See Ya!
You can find several of these helpful recipes on my website: www.noreenskitchen.com