Talk of Thanksgiving is on everyone’s lips this week, which makes me so happy! I usually get tired of hearing about the same topic on every single blog I read, but since this holiday is at the very top of my list, I just love it.
I’ve been writing about Thanksgiving on here since 2007 and my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner in our home for our friends and family since 2008. I absolutely love cooking with him and we usually go all out for this meal (as you can see from the past posts!). We always make a schedule that starts a few days before the Big Day. We prep and cook a few things ahead of time, and then have it planned out—to the minute sometimes—for when things need to go in and out of the oven (or fridge or microwave or whatever). Ah! It makes me hungry and excited just thinking about it!
This will be our first year in six years that we aren’t spending the holiday together, but I’m not letting that stop me from enjoying Thanksgiving. Military spouses are resilient and we make the best of every situation that comes our way, including holidays that are meant to be spent around the table with family. That’s because fellow military friends become your family when your spouse is deployed and family is hundreds or thousands of miles away.
So grateful my mom could join us for the luncheon!
Last week my husband’s squadron had a Thanksgiving lunch in a vehicle maintenance bay, and this Thursday I’ll be joining about a dozen other ladies, a gentleman, and their kids for a feast at my friend’s house. It’s not ideal, and as much as we all like each other, I’m sure we’d all rather be sitting next to our spouse, or at least another family member. But, we do what we have to do to make crappy situations seem normal, because this is our normal.
In honor of Thanksgiving week, I want to leave you with what would’ve been our menu for Thursday if my husband was here. You may already have your meals picked out, but just in case you don’t, these are some of our favorite picks for the day:
(picture circa 2010)
We love Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe. It takes a little longer to make, because you brine it overnight, but it’s delicious and we always get compliments on how juicy and flavorful the turkey is.
The Green Bean Casserole.
You must, must, make this! It’s been on our table each Thanksgiving for years and it’s my favorite side dish. I’ve been saying—since 2007—that I’m going to post the recipe and I finally got around to it. Here ya go, my Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole recipe!
These are super easy to make and pack a lot of creamy flavor in every bite, plus you can make them ahead of time and just heat them up before your guests come over. Sometimes I like to throw in some roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese. I also reduce the fat content by using fat-free half and half and reduced-fat cream cheese. (You can’t tell the difference!) YUM!
We have two breads for Thanksgiving and they’re both from my husband—he’s the baker in the family. First up are his rolls (I’m practically drooling right now thinking about them and wishing he could make them for me right now). I need to see if I can share the recipe, because they. are. awesome. (Sorry for the tease.) We also have a whole-wheat bread on hand with the really-easy-to-make French Bread (this is made ahead and then baked the day of).
The Cranberry Sauce.
I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce. I just didn’t seem the appeal of eating something that looked like jello on top of my turkey. But, to each their own. Then, my grandma gave me her recipe for Cranberry Relish, so I gave it a shot and haven’t looked back since! If you need something to take to a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner and really don’t want to fuss over actually making something, then take this! It’s easy and tastes great = win.
I know. I know! Over the past several years we’ve made many different homemade versions of stuffing in order to try to get me to stray from the box, but I’m always left disappointed and end up diving into my secret stash of Stove Top to make at the last minute. Stove Top just has the right mixture and consistency of everything to make me want to eat the entire thing. Not that I’ve ever done that. Ever.
A fellow blogger friend of mine recently just posted something that took my love for (this) stuffing one step higher. She made Stuffing Stuffed Crescentsand I plan on making them later today since I’ve been craving them since she posted it. What? The baby REALLY wants to try them and I need to give the baby what she wants.
We usually have the traditional pecan and pumpkin pies, but my favorite is apple pie, so we turn to a version of Alton Brown’s Super Apple Pie recipe. I haven’t made it for a few years, but my mom gave me her recipe for Pumpkin Torte and it’s one of the very few pumpkin things I like to eat. Maybe I’ll make it again next year.
We all know appetizers are just filler-foods before you get to the good stuff (that’s why it’s at the end of this list)! We usually have a spread of cheese and crackers, little smokies (in BBQ sauce, of course), and I make this Sweet Biscuit Wreath, because it’s pretty, easy to make, sweet, and good when little kids are over.
So that’s a wrap for our would-be Thanksgiving menu with the things we usually make. If we have guests come over and they want to bring something we usually suggest they bring a ham, sweet potato casserole (I have a good recipe, but never have the time or energy to make it), some other vegetable side dish, or wine. A Thanksgiving table definitely needs wine!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food to grace the table and who’s sitting around the table with you this year?