Thanksgiving Menu 2014

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Thanksgiving was such a blast this year! I have so much fun planning and preparing for Thanksgiving, although I may be slightly guilty of obsessing over every last detail. Like getting out of bed at 7:30 on Thanksgiving morning to go to two grocery stores looking for the perfect flower arrangement. These are the things I normally don’t tell people. This was my second year hosting in our not-so-new-anymore home, and I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out! I roasted one of the largest turkeys I have ever seen (nearly 21 lbs.) and of course made way too much food.

Wednesday was spent preparing; I try to make most of the food the day before so I can enjoy Thanksgiving day with my guests instead of sweating over the stove. The highlight of my prep day was having my sister come over to help me cook and make desserts; she prepared the most delicious berries and cornmeal cake from Martha Stewart. It was absolutely delicious! A new holiday tradition for sure! I made pumpkin pie and pecan pie; two of our favorites! Okay, onto the Thanksgiving menu:

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Turkey, of course, is the star at Thanksgiving. I stuff my turkey with lemons, onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and then drizzle with melted butter. Before going into the roaster, I never use my oven because the turkey is usually too big, I generously season the bird with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I pour 2 c. of broth in the bottom of the roaster then nestle the turkey on the roasting rack. This year the turkey took a little longer than planned; about 4 3/4 hours, but it was moist, juicy and extremely tender. After the turkey is cooked its important to allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes so the juices redistribute. It was well worth the wait, even if it did blow my ETA for dinner outta the water. I am also happy to report carving the turkey was successful; I love that you can watch how-to videos on the internet for things like this.

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Homemade cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things to make. I started preparing my own cranberry sauce several years ago and it tastes significantly better than the store bought canned stuff, in my opinion. Homemade cranberry sauce is sweet and tangy; I bring 1 c. water and 1 c. sugar to a boil then add 1 cinnamon stick, a pinch of ground cloves, 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger, and the zest of 1 orange. Then I add 1 bag of organic cranberries and simmer, stirring often, until the cranberries break down and produce a lusciously thick cranberry sauce. Can you tell it’s my favorite side??

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Classic mashed potatoes are certainly a crowd-pleaser; they are truly decadent. Place 5 lbs. of peeled and cubed Russet potatoes into a large pot, covering with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for ~25 minutes, or until extremely fork tender. Drain and add back to the pot with 1 stick cubed butter and 1/2 c. half and half. Mash with a potato masher, adding half and half along the way, until they reach your desired consistently. I am definitely on team-creamy-mashed-potatoes, but you can certainly leave them chunky if that is your preference.

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Green bean casserole is the most requested dish at my family’s holiday events and with good reason! I change it up a little from the classic recipe by using fresh green beans and organic condensed soup (of which I can pronounce every. single. ingredient. These things are important to me). I also add an extra splash of milk to accommodate the additional handful (or two) of crispy fried onions; those things are my favorite!

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A new addition to the holiday meal was the kale and brussels sprout salad that I recently posted. I am tempted to bring this dish to every holiday gathering this year; it is the perfect mix of delicious, fresh, and healthy. It is the ying to the ever heavy and decadent yang that is holiday food, and I simply cannot get enough! If you invite me anywhere this holiday season expect this kale and brussels salad to make an appearance; you have been warned! :)

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My mother in law brought mashed sweet potatoes with a nutty pecan crust.

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And my Yaya brought spinach and rice; another recipe I fondly remember from my childhood.  

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Last, but not least, these are the rolls that were used to prepare leftover turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches. The best part about hosting thanksgiving is the leftovers, hands down! 

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Thanksgiving day always seems to go so fast and I’m always slightly sad when everything is over. Luckily Christmas is in just a few short weeks!

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There are a thousand things I am thankful for this year but I will spare you the long list. I do have to mention my amazing family that I couldn’t live without. The amount of love and support I receive on a daily basis is unreal and does not go unnoticed. During dinner I looked around and felt like the luckiest girl ever. Here’s to the start of a great holiday season!

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Lola was clearly exhausted by the time everyone left, ha!

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