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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away! Do you have your menu planned?
This savory side is JUST EXCELLENT with turkey and all the fixings. It comes together fast, and pairs exceptionally well with a bottle of white. This recipe is a tried and true one from SUNDAY BEST DISHES. My readers can look forward to a print edition, coming out in Summer 2017. I raise my glass to all of you, and wish you the best Thanksgiving yet!
I think it’s the goat cheese that makes this so yummy!
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding
This savory take on bread pudding infuses chunks of buttery bread with sugary, caramelized onions and sharp goat cheese. It’s a yummy, creamy perfect for the Sunday supper table.
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups half and half
2 large eggs, beaten
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup
6 to 8 thick slices bread cut into (1-inch thick) cubes, about 6 cups
Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the onion begins to turn golden and caramelize, stir in chives and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is dark brown and syrupy, about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk the half and half with the eggs in a large bowl. Place the bread cubes into the wet ingredients. Push down to submerge every cube. Let the bread cubes absorb the liquid, about 15 to 20 minutes. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the caramelized onion.
Spoon the bread pudding into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish coated with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top. Bake until the pudding is set and the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Spoon the bread pudding onto the plate and garnish with additional fresh chives.
What to do with all of those two for the price of one cans of pumpkin puree? Well, it’s a bit like Bubba Gump. You can bake pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake and pumpkin muffins. You can prepare pumpkin waffles, pancakes and coffee cake. There’s pumpkin soup and pumpkin mole sauce. Pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin trifle… get the idea?
Well, here’s a refreshing dish. Let’s use that leftover pumpkin to create Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. Believe it or not, it takes little effort. An ice cream machine does all of the work. Serve it alongside your favorite cookie… maybe pumpkin biscotti?!
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Rich, velvety ice cream comes together more quickly than you might think. Serve with chocolatey brownies or cookies for an over-the-top ice cream experience. Remember, if it’s not frozen…. It’s not dessert!
Makes 12 Scoops
4 hours ‘til Dessert time
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Whisk together ½ cup brown sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl until smooth.
Whisk together heavy cream, the remaining ½ cup brown sugar, pumpkin puree, milk, salt and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Cook until the liquid just begins to bubble on the edges, about 5 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Whisk a small amount (1/4 to 1/3 cup) of the warm liquid into the sugar and egg yolks. Pour this back into the saucepan. Cook the custard over medium heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the custard through a sieve or fine mesh strainer into a bowl. This will sort out any cooked bits of egg. Place this bowl into a larger bowl. Place ice cubes into the larger bowl to chill the custard. Stir the custard every once in a while to reduce the temperature. When the custard is cooled (this can take 30 to 45 minutes) pour into an ice cream machine. Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill further in the freezer for at least 2 to 3 hours.
This is my favorite dressing for turkey day and every other time that I can bring it to the table. Yes, it is perfect for Thanksgiving, but it also works with roasted chicken, Cornish game hens or stuffed into baked bell pepper or zucchini boats. Try it, I bet you will love it!
1 (10 ¼-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup or more homemade chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the butternut squash cubes onto a baking sheet and toss with cinnamon, chili powder, salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast until the cubes are soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook until golden, about another 10 minutes. Stir in the kale until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the bread cubes into a large bowl. Add the butternut squash and the rest of the vegetables. Stir in the canned soup. Add 1 cup chicken broth. Stir to combine the dressing ingredients. If it appears too dry, add more stock to get the consistency that you want. Transfer dressing to a casserole dish and dot with small pieces of butter. Bake at 400°until it is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.