Do you ever think back to what you were doing last year at this time? I find it so interesting to think back and consider how life has changed. Last year I was in my third trimester and getting pretty preggo. This year I have a 10 month old baby and have a home in a new town!
And yet, some things stay the same. Last year my in-laws came to our place for Thanksgiving and they are coming again this year. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking and Thanksgiving is the ultimate kitchen challenge. I am always on the quest for the perfect turkey and dishes. There are so many options out there it’s always so hard to decide!
There are a few dishes I’m going to keep the same as last year because they were dynamite, but there are a few new dishes on the line-up. Here’s my plan for our Thanksgiving feast this year along with what I did last year.
Turkey & Brine
One thing I’ve learned is brining is key to making a juicy, tender, and delicious turkey. Please don’t skip this step! I am going to use the same brine and roasting recipes as last year, which is from the Pioneer Woman. One trick I heard this year that I’m going to try out is to put the turkey in the refrigerator uncovered the night before roasting. Apparently, this helps achieve a nice golden turkey.
OMG, this was so good last year. I declared then that I would make it again this year. Hopefully it’s as delicious as I remember because it was a winner. I call it stuffing but I know some of you out there call it dressing.
- This Year & Last Year – Stuffing: The Best Cornbread Stuffing
I always buy a jar of gravy just in case I either run out of time or energy and/or the gravy doesn’t turn out for some reason. This year I’m trying a recipe with a cornstarch thickening agent opposed to flour from last year’s recipe.
I’ve made a different cranberry sauce the past few years. I just haven’t found “the one.” I’m looking for a balance of sweet and tangy. Hopefully this does it! I did like the conveniences of the slow cooker, though. It was a decent sauce, but I’m looking for perfection!
I bought a potato ricer to try this year. I should get it any day now. I hope this will make these the lightest and fluffiest potatoes! I think I’ll make them early and keep them warm in the slow cooker.
- Last Year: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- This Year: Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes
- Runner-up: Mashed Potatoes with Brown Butter, Goat Cheese, and Sage
I usually make Brussel Sprouts, but learned that my in-laws don’t really like them all that much. Ha! So this year the veggie is green beans. Roasting is my favorite way to cook green beans – yum! I’ll just do Brussels Sprouts for Christmas and the recipe I have is so good!
- Last Year: Caramelized Shallots and Brussels Sprouts
- This Year: Sautéed Green Beans With Mushrooms and Caramelized Cipollini Onions
- Runner-up: Dijon Maple Green Beans
I always have grand plans of making rolls, but then end up just buying them. I’m hoping I’ll be able to bake them this year with this quick 30 minute option. I was tempted with the freeze and bake ones, but realized they still need to rise for like 4-5 hours in the morning..
It’s not a complete Thanksgiving meal without some pie. Pumpkin pie, of course! I love everything pumpkin so this is the hardest decision for me. This one calls my name with that delicious looking crumb topping. But I highly recommend the one I made last year, too.
So there is the line-up. Now, the game plan:
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving:
- Make the pie crust and store in the refrigerator (or freezer depending on when I get to it)
- Cook a fresh pumpkin for the pie and store in the refrigerator (I’ll have canned pumpkin on back-up, just in case)
- Make the rolls and freeze them
- Make the cranberry sauce – I think this will be just fine in the refrigerator for a few days
- Bake the cornbread for the stuffing
- Caramelize the onions for the green beans – Optional
- Brine the turkey for 18-24 hours
- Take the rolls out of the freezer first thing in the morning – they will need 4-5 hours to defrost and rise
- Make and bake the pumpkin pie
- Assemble the stuffing
- Assemble the green beans
- Peel the potatoes
- Peel and parboil the sweet potatoes
Before putting in the Turkey:
- Bake the rolls, stuffing, green beans, and sweet potatoes
- Roast the Turkey – The time really depends on the size of the bird. It’s about 10 minutes per pound of turkey
- Sauté the green beans
- Prepare the mashed potatoes
While the Turkey Rests:
- Warm up all the sides in the oven – I hope they all fit in my oven!
- Pour some wine (or sparkling cider)
Lastly, as part of my preparation, I like to go through all my recipes, read them, add them to Paprika, and list out the temperature and bake times. For the last item, it’s great to know what the need is for the oven. Sometimes you can bake things together. I only have one oven so I need to be efficient!
- 25 mins @ 350 — Rolls
- 35 mins @ 375 — Pie
- 25 mins @ 350 — Pie Topping
- 15 mins @ 450 — Cornbread for Stuffing
- 45 mins @ 400 — Stuffing
- 50 mins @ 400 — Sweet Potatoes
Whew! I can do this, right?! It’s going to be a challenge with a 10-month old baby, but with help I think we can make this feast a success.
Tell me about your Thanksgiving plans! Any dishes that are pure perfection?