My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

thanksgiving dinner ideas 2021

It’s TURKEY TIME and we’re together again…finally! Extraordinary times call for extraordinary meals, and this year is especially filled with gratitude and good meals at the family dinner table.

When is Thanksgiving in 2021?  Thursday, November 25th!  That’s right around the corner.

Whether you’re hosting a family gathering, a Friendsgiving or a neighborhood potluck, we come to gather and give thanks at this time of year and this year is special.

We may not have seen each other in a while, so this Thanksgiving it’s more important than ever that you, the host, enjoy your day as much as everyone else does!

I have a sure-fire plan that allows you to make sure that you have as much FUN on Thanksgiving as your guests.

Here’s how we’ll do it!

 

Turkey Day Planning

Avoid Shortages: Order Ahead

This year especially you want to make sure that you reserve the items that you need for your menu and that you pick them up in plenty of time. Pick up your frozen turkey as soon as you can (and put it on your calendar to order ahead for festivities in December).

If you’re choosing a fresh turkey, make sure you reserve it at the grocery store for pick up several days in advance. The same is true if you are getting your turkey from the farm or market.

Make sure you are ready to pick up your reserved turkey when the farmer is ready to deliver.

Accept Help!

 

If Aunt Edna’s offers her pumpkin pie, accept!! If Cousin Ben offers to bring an appy, accept!!

If your best friend offers to help with the dishes, accept!!

You are the host, not the restaurant owner. This meal is about being thankful for our blessings and friends and family are those blessings.

 

Turkey Day Take-Alongs

Plan Your Menu

Turkey is the star, of course.

But choose the sides based on your oven space. If you have one oven, having six casserole dishes that need heated at the last minute won’t work out well.

Make use of your slow cooker, Instapot or warming drawer for extra help.

 

Break Down Everything into Its Smallest Part

 

If your appy is a cheese platter, have everything chopped and rolled so that all you have to do is assemble it.

Make your desserts ahead. Assemble your casserole dishes ahead, so all you have to do is bake them.

Make your gravy ahead and heat it on the stove while you carve the turkey.

Set your table in advance. If you are tackling a centerpiece, do this in advance.

Have a plan that lets you wake on Thanksgiving morning to a day with very few chores left to do!

 

Take a look at these ideas to get you started:

The Best Gravy Recipe EVER

 

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever. This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!

Out of time or inspiration? Get my very best Thanksgiving recipes with easy-to-follow instructions to make this the most tasty holiday yet!

Shop Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
Great Gift Ideas 😉

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

Skip to recipe

Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

Ingredients for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread

 

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water

  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread 

 

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

 

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

 

National Hamburger Day is May 28 🍔 Get these burger recipes!

National Hamburger Day is May 28 🍔 Get these burger recipes!

National Hamburger Day Recipes

National Hamburger Day is May 28th.  What will YOU be eating?

We all know you really don’t need a designated day to savor a delicious, sizzling burger, fresh off the grill, or make a veggie-forward option for a lighter lunch option.

And with Memorial Day around the corner, it’s all the more reason to start thinking burgers!

I have made my fair share of burgers over the years for a number of occasions:  Super Bowl parties, outdoor get-togethers, and just good ol’ American eatin’.

But these recipes endure, and I’m sure they’ll find a special place in your May menu line-up!

Score a Touchdown with the SUNDAY BEST BURGER!

Check out my recipe for my Sunday Best Burger to see just what happiness is made from! If you don’t want to grind the beef yourself, ask your butcher to do the grinding for you. Most grocery store meat departments will be happy to do this for no extra charge.

Read on

Couch Potato Fan Food for the Super Bowl

 These sliders are bite-sized and couch PERFECT.  Use sharp cheddar and do NOT forget the pickles.  Oh, and good news, the recipe a mountain of pimento cheese, suitable for savoring with burgers, nachos, you name it!

Read on

Couch Potato Fan Food for the Super Bowl

My veggie burgers are filled with fiber and offer a delicious alternative to the more caloric beef burger. This is your go-to recipe for a basic veggie burger that most condiments and giant bun can make extra delicious. I like that you can make it in a skillet just like you would a grilled cheese.  

Read on

Couch Potato Fan Food for the Super Bowl

What would a delicious burger be without homemade fries?! You’ll be delighted by how easy – and delicious! – these hot potatoes are.

Read on

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Kentucky Derby Menu Ideas Party

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.

Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…
Mint Julep Recipe Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@gustavocastilho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Gustavo de Camargo</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mint-julep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

4 sprigs fresh mint

½ tbls powdered sugar

1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky

 

Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.

Read On

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie!  This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.

Read On

Collard Greens With Slow Roasted Pork Belly

This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.

 

Read On

Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

Read On

Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.

Read On

My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.

Read On

Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Hubby and I share a great deal of similarities, but this most recent experience was WAY TOO MUCH! Savor this spring soup with your significant other, in health or toothache!  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

They say that if you’ve lived with someone for a very long time you start looking like each other. Hubby and I have lived together for a very….exceptionally long time and although we have many similarities, we don’t look too much like each other.

Or do we? 

We both have blue eyes.

On any given day, after various salon appointments, we both have blonde hair. 

Our tummies aren’t as flat as they once were and getting up and down out of our respective easy chairs, we both have a little hitch in our giddy-up (as my Dad would say). 

Sometimes we come out of the closet and we’re wearing the same colors.

Sometimes we miss the same golf shot.

Sometimes we order the exact same meal. Sometimes we finish each other’s sentences.

And then…there is the whole name thing……

But our recent bonding experience has carried things too far…way too far! 

Hubby made a dentist appointment recently. He reported back that he had a tooth that required repair and a bigger appointment the following week.

By the next day, I had a sore tooth and went to the same dentist.

After a quick x-ray, she emerged with uncomfortable-looking body language and promptly sent me off to an endodontist to discuss a root canal.

That guy was great, but he said no can do and pushed me along to a really nice oral surgeon who scheduled me for a tooth extraction and dental implant the next week.

YIKES!

I reported back to hubby and he laughed and laughed.

He, the owner of a tooth that simply needed repair and me whose tooth was at dental death’s doorstep. I filled my prescription for Valium and prepared for the worst. 

Hubby’s appointment day came, the day before mine, and off he went.

Forty-five minutes later, he texted that he was on his way to my same oral surgeon for an emergency tooth removal.  The dentist had misjudged the decay on his tooth. Go figure. 

Bottom line is that we each lost a tooth in the exact same place in our mouths, twenty-four hours apart.

Now, even our smiles are a bit more similar. 

Which gets me to the recipe this week. Pea soup!!

Yes, in order to ease the swelling, the surgeon recommended that I buy bags of frozen peas. Which I did: Bags and bags and bags of frozen peas.

After the swelling was gone, the peas remained. Note too, that only soft, smooth things were on the Morgan menu for a week or two.

So, our frozen peas did double duty as relief and substance.

Some things don’t change though. Even as similar as we are, I couldn’t convince hubby to eat pea soup.

He hates peas… which worked out just fine for me!

Have a great week and don’t forget to schedule your dentist appointment soon!

Sweet Pea Soup

Yield: 1 Quart

Time: 30 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, about 2 cups

½ cup dry sherry

Juice from ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 to 3 dill sprigs

3 to 4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup heavy cream

Sour cream for garnish

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Heat the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and spinach.

Pour in the sherry and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 4 minutes more. Add the lemon juice and dill sprigs.

Pour in 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to liquefy the ingredients to create a smooth, velvety soup. Return the soup to the pot. If the soup is too thick, you can add some more broth.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. At this point, you can chill the soup or heat the soup to warm it up.

It’s great served warm or cold! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill.

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe

 

There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness!

We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!

One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board.

Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses.

The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).

But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum.

But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other.

Just like I like it!

My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.

The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.

Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.

Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!

Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream

These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.

Ingredients

For tuna:

1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:

½ cup rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)

1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

For roasted garlic cream:

Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For nachos:

Large, sturdy tortilla chips

2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)

Serves:   A Crowd

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.  Pour the rest over the tuna steak.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade.  Shake off the excess.  Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare.  Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade.  Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.

Remove the tuna from the freezer.  Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna.  Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip.  Drizzle with garlic cream.