For the last several years, I’ve hosted Thanksgiving, first at my tiny cramped apartment and now at my tiny cramped condo. I enjoy the challenge of cooking a feast for my family. Since this is my first Thanksgiving blogging, I thought I would share a few of my tried and true recipes that have made my preparations a bit easier.
First Up! The side dish that my sister considers the MOST important…
The Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- 5 lbs. of potatoes. I used regular russets.
- 1 cup of sour cream
- 4 oz. of cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 2 tbsp. butter
Peel potatoes and cut into similar sized chunks. Place chunks of potatoes in a large pot with water, bring to a low boil and cook until soft. When done, drain the potatoes and pour them back into your pot. Add the sour cream, cream cheese, milk and butter. Mash it all together until they reach your desired level of lumpiness. I like really creamy potatoes so I add a bit more milk and mash them using a hand mixer until there are no lumps.
Line a 9 x 13 cooking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour mashed potatoes in pan, cover and refrigerate. You can also put them in a microwave safe bowl, but I’ve had troubles getting the entire lot of potatoes warmed through in my microwave because of the quantity I make.
On Turkey Day, reheat until warm and serve with your desired toppings! I stick the pan, covered in foil, on the lower rack of the oven below my turkey for a couple of hours, checking the temperature with the thermometer to make sure they are getting warm!
My Favorite Side! The Dressing
I would like to thank my Tastefully Simple Consultant for this quick and easy way to make dressing. It’s so simple and since the soup can be made in the crock pot is saves you from having to make space on your stove, in your oven and if you have a crock pot with a removable crock, you don’t even have to dirty a serving bowl!
- 1 box of the Tastefully Simple Creamy Wild Rice Soup Mix
- 1 box of instant dressing/stuffing (like StoveTop)
Cook the soup per package directions in your crock pot. Between an hour to a half hour before service, pour the entire box of stuffing directly into your crock pot. Stir until the stuffing is coated in soup. Cover until ready to serve.
My tip: I’m lucky to have several outlets in my dining room near my table. I set my crock pot up on a TV tray, plug it in and cook away. The soup only needs to be stirred occasionally. This saves me some counter space and the crock doesn’t take up space on the table when it’s time for service.
My Time Savers…I just buy a jar of gravy that’s on sale near the holidays. I suck at making gravy. It’s either too thick or it breaks apart. I don’t have the patience to make gravy after cooking for two days straight.
The miracle of frozen vegetables…I bought these one year because they were on sale and they got rave reviews from my guests so I continue to buy them each year. Two boxes usually feeds the group in attendance (10-12 people), but that may vary depending on your guests love or dislike of vegetables.
- Frozen, unbaked dinner rolls
- Melted butter, salted plus extra to grease your pan
- Iron skillet
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 2 tbsp. butter
Liberally grease your iron skillet with butter (or olive oil). Follow the package directions for the frozen rolls allowing them to rise for several hours. After they rise, brush the rolls with melted butter and bake according to package directions.
I make these up the day before Thanksgiving and store in a Ziploc bag. At some point, before service, I warm the rolls a bit in the microwave and cover with a clean dishtowel
I thaw my turkey in a sink full of cold water and once it is thawed, I store it in the fridge until it is ready to prep. For my prep, I slather the beast, both on top and under the skin, with tons of softened butter that’s been mixed with Penzey’s Mural of Flavor. I stuff the bird with pretty standard aromatics—lemon, onions, carrots, celery, fresh rosemary, fresh sage and fresh thyme. Then I cook the bird per package instructions and monitor it with a thermometer. I do obsessively baste the sucker using the melted butter and natural juices the cook off the bird. Following these steps, I’ve never had a dried out turkey.
The Desserts!Last year was the first year, I gave up control of any portion of my Thanksgiving feast. But the previous year, I overdid it big time and actually injured myself with all the cooking, backing and cleaning. So I leave the desserts up to my lovely sister, who is an equally accomplish chef and baker. When I did make the desserts, I steered away from the traditional pies because…well, see my note above regarding the gravy. I would usually make an apple dessert of some kind and a pumpkin dessert. Man, now I’m craving the pumpkin cream cheese filled cake I used to make…
So how about you? What are some of your Thanksgiving Day staples? What are your suggestions for dishes to add?