Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner {From Scratch}


Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday of the year, and it's definitely a production at my home!  Family, friends, football and food.  What could be better?

Today, I am sharing with you all the recipes that I use, a menu, a grocery list and a day-of timeline for how to make your own Thanksgiving dinner from scratch.

It's taken me several years to find just the right recipes that are not only delicious, but that compliment each other well.
Here is a picture of all the ingredients you will need.  It costs me less than $90 and it will serve a table of twelve!  Generally I make half of the dishes the day before and rest the day of.

Try and take advantage of everything you can do and make the night before, including setting the table, making the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and brining the turkey.

I start by soaking the turkey overnight in a brine made of water, onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary and Italian parsley.  Brining the turkey will make it juicier, more tender and will add a lot of extra flavor.

Then I set the table, which I look foward to every year... I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Thanksgiving table when it's all set up.

After you make it, the crust for the pumpkin pie needs to sit in the fridge for at least two hours before you can use it.   I used to be afraid of pie crust until I watched this video on how to make it.  I always assumed that pie crust should form into a ball in the food processor...not so much.  Always use very cold ingredients...

When you turn out the mixture onto your surface, it should resemble coarse crumbs, just hold together when you squeeze it, yet not be sticky.

Form into two discs and place in the fridge for at least two hours to chill.  I use the extra dough to make leaves around the edges of my pie plate for pumpkin pie. 

While your pie crust is chilling in the fridge, start the cranberry sauce.  This recipe couldn't be easier!  Cranberries are my absolute favorite fruit.  This is the only time of year I get to eat them, so several of these recipes are laced with cranberries.  Plus, they help tie all the dishes together!

Boil the sugar and water for about 5 minutes, then add the cranberries and orange zest and boil 5 minutes more.  The cranberries will begin to burst and will look like this when it's ready.

Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Occasionally, there will be some extra liquid that you will need to strain off before you serve.


Also while the pie crust is chilling you can start the potatoes.  These are incredibly easy, just tedious as you have to peel 8 pounds of potatoes.  Something I've found that makes for easier clean up is to peel them over a few paper towels.  When you're done, just fold up the paper towels and throw them away.  You will need a very large pot for these as there's several of them.

Boil the potatoes, drain, and then place them back in the pot.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, take your hand held electric mixer and mix until smooth.  At this point, you can refrigerate them overnight.  The day of, bring them to room temperature (about 4 hours) and then bake for about an hour.  If you are starting these the day of, mix up the mashed potatoes and then bake for about an hour.

With sour cream, cream cheese, and whole milk... these are the best potatoes ever!

Next, I start on the pumpkin pie.  Today I've included a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin, although if you'd like to make a pumpkin pie from a roasted pumpkin, see this post.

Let the pie cool for about 2 hours, then put in the fridge overnight so it will firm up.

On the day of, I get up very early.  The first thing I do is cut up the bread to make the stuffing.

I use white bread as well as wheat bread, it makes for such pretty stuffing.

Put all cubes onto two cookie sheets and bake at 225 degrees for 50 minutes to toast the bread and make it very crisp.  Crispy bread helps withstand the chicken stock and butter you will pour on it later.

Next, I start the cornbread.  This can be made first thing in the morning, cooled for a few hours, cut up and wrapped with plastic wrap to keep it from getting stale.  Every time I serve this, people ask me for the recipe!

My husband usually barbeques our turkey every year. It gives him something to 'be in charge of' on the big day, and it frees up my oven so I can bake all the side dishes.

Since not everyone barbeques their turkey, I included a recipe and some pictures from when I cooked a turkey in a oven bag.  Brush it with a half stick of melted butter and then season it with a mixture of thyme, sage, marjoram, paprika and rosemary and throw it into the bag. I also added to the bag, the left over fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and parsely that I had purchased for the brine.

Keep in mind that if you brine your turkey, the baking time will be quite a bit less.  {Cooking time and more info in the link to the recipe.}

 This recipe for green bean casserole is like none that I've ever found.  People who don't particularly care for green bean casserole seem to like this dish...alot!  It does call for your traditional cream of mushroom soup, as well as french fried onions... however it also has red pepper, bacon, soy sauce, vermouth, milk and Mozzarella cheese.

When I used to think of sweet potatoes, I thought of orange mashed up potatoes covered with marshmallows and then baked.  Well, those are yams.  Sweet potatoes are white on the inside, and taste totally different than yams.

This recipe for sweet potatoes is aboslutely fabulous and smells like love when you bring it out of the oven! 

 When you cut into this dish, it's so pretty!  The brown sugar and cereal mixture is on top, followed by apples and cranberries, and then the white sweet potatoes. This is probably my favorite recipe out of all the side dishes that I make.

Next, I make the stuffing.  If you like apples and cranberries you will LOVE this recipe!  I love the taste and texture that the chopped apples lend to this dish.

Cook the sausage and onion, add in the celery and spices.  Place the bread cubes in a large stock pot, pour the sausage mixture over them and mix lightly.  Add in the apples, cranberries and parsley.  Drizzle with butter and chicken stock until bread cubes are softened to your liking and mix lightly again.  Super easy and very tasty!

Lastly, I make the gravy.  As I said before we usually barbeque our turkey, so we miss out on all the juices and fat that comes with an oven roasted turkey.

  I've tested out dozens of gravy recipes and this one is the best that I've found.  It calls for three packets of turkey gravy, chopped up giblets from the turkey, chicken broth and a little bit of flour.

I like to serve my Thanksgiving dinner buffet style on my kitchen island.  This way, the dinner table is not over crowded with food and people passing dishes back and forth.

  It is more intimate and we are able to enjoy each other's conversation over the candle light from the centerpieces.

Click on the links to view the recipes:

If you have any questions about how to make any of these recipes, please email me at and I will get right back with you!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


  1. Great post! Thank you, I love it all!

  2. omg, you have me so inspired to try my 1st thanksgiving dinner! And I totally HEART your place settings!!!!

    hugs! Kim @ Frost Me!/Party Frosting!
    party inspiration

  3. OMG! This is making me so hungry. I want to try all the recipes!

  4. Alway so neat to see the variations on the way people celebrate thanksgiving! This is a great post...I'm feeling a little inspired...maybe I'll finally tackle that scratch pie crust this year. :)

  5. So amazing! I'm out of town for thanksgiving but I'm all over this for Christmas! I'll make the pie for a fall treat. Thanks Ally : )

  6. This is simply awesome! I picked up a few new recipes :D!! Thanks for posting. Your table looks stunning :)

  7. Wow! Amazing! Did you make that recently? Your family is LUCKY! ;-)

  8. This is amazing! I love Thanksgiving but the thought of all the work is a little off putting. The way you have it laid out makes it look so easy. Thank you!

  9. Yummy... I am going to have to try some of these!

  10. The dish is actually looking yummy. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It will be nice to try it as one of the amazing thanksgiving dinner ideas. Thanks for sharing.

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