My Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is about a week away – do you have your menu planned?

Gathering recipes and planning for Thanksgiving can be so time consuming, so I thought I’d share my menu to help make things a bit easier for you!  Not only are these recipes delicious, but I’ve tried to steer clear of heavy carb recipes and stick close to my healthy diet (while still making sure I’m serving crowd-pleasers!).

My Menu

  • Turkey – Brined with apple cider and herbs
  • Butternut squash soup (this will be the first course)
  • Mushroom stuffing
  • Roasted Brussel sprout / Sweet Potato / Pecan dish
  • Homemade Cranberries

Since I only started cooking Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, I’m still nailing my “staple” dishes, and often leverage recipes from those with much more experience. I aim for a balanced menu, however, that feels traditional and festive, but tweak the recipes so they’re healthier (aka swap cream and butter for healthier options).

Damn Good Turkey – Complete with Apple Cider Brine


Source: Recipe from Self-Proclaimed Foodie.

Need a good turkey recipe? Well, this is it. The brine gives this recipe a whole lot of flavor and moistness – you can’t go wrong!

Ingredients

Brine:

  • 8 cups apple cider (Trader Joes has a Honey Crisp Apple Cider that’s highly recommended)
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12-pound) turkey (ensure its fully thawed if previously frozen)
  • 6 cups ice

Roasted turkey:

  • As many fresh herbs as will fit into cavity (sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

To prepare brine:

  1. Combine apple cider, salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and bay leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes until salt dissolves. Cool completely.
  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, refrigerate until ready to use, and reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a large stockpot. Place turkey inside bag. Add cold cider mixture and ice. Squeeze as much air out of bag as possible. twist top and secure with twist tie or tuck end so that it stays put. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

To roast the turkey:

  1. Preheat oven or grill to 450º.
  2. Remove turkey from bag, and discard brine, and bag. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Cut a small slit in the breast skin so that you can tuck wing tips under to keep in place. Tie legs together with kitchen string if the turkey didn’t already come with a fastener. Place herbs in the cavity of the bird. Pour the broth in the bottom of a roasting pan that will be under the bird (this will also catch the drippings). Place roasting rack in pan if roasting in the oven or if using a rack and roasting pan on your grill. I cooked mine on the tracer and put a pan on the grease tray under the rack, and the turkey directly on the rack.
  3. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey with 1 tablespoon of the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 450º for 30 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
  5. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up). Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes* or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of breast registers 150º. Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil with thermometer still inserted, and let stand until internal temperature reads 160-165º , about 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for gravy.

Butternut Squash Soup + Parmesan Sage Croutons

Just last week, I featured my favorite Butternut Squash Soup recipe complete with Sage Parmesan Croutons. It’s the perfect first course for your Thanksgiving dinner. Recipe here.

Simple (but amazing!) Stuffing

Source: Bon Appetit

This easy stuffing recipe will be a staple on your Thanksgiving dinner menu for years to come. it’s so simple and easy to execute and will definitely be a favorite amongst guests. I’m swapping whole butter for half Earth Balance spread, half butter and using whole grain bread instead to make it a bit healthier.

Ingredients (8 to 10 Servings)

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch slices celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 250°. Butter a baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°, about 40 minutes.

DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.

  • Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).

Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes & Pecans

Source: Slightly modified recipe from Julia’s Album

This recipe, to me, looks like Thanksguving and is packed with so much goodness. 

Ingredients:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

  • 1 and ½ pound sweet potato, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

Directions

Roasted Brussels sprouts:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Make sure Brussels sprouts have trimmed ends and yellow leaves are removed. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened. 

Roasted sweet potato:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed sweet potato,1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix.
  3. Place sweet potato in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.
  4. _Note:_You can roast both Brussels sprouts and sweet potato on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven – that’s what I did.

Assembly:

  1. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, pecans, and cranberries, and mix to combine. (OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.

Mashed Potatoes

I’m leaving these to our friends to bring since mashed potatoes really aren’t my thing. This looks like a delicious recipe though, if you’re interested in creamy Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe will take just a few minutes to make and will most likely convince you to give up the canned sauce! It is sweet but not as sweet as the commercial products and with a slight citrus tang, a little bite from the nutmeg in it, and those fresh berries in it. you can’t go wrong.

Source: Tara Kimball, Simple Food 365

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

  • Spread the cranberries out on a baking sheet and pick through them to remove any that are damaged.
  • Put the cranberries into a medium sauce pan.
  • Add the sugar, water, juice, zest and nutmeg.
  • Stir to combine everything together.
  • Turn the heat on medium and let it come to a simmer. You’ll hear the cranberries start to pop as they cook.
  • Let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. There’s no need to add a thickener of any kind. The natural pectin in the cranberries will do all of the work for you.
  • Move the cranberry sauce to a storage container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

And for dessert? Well, I’m leaving that to my mother-in-law since sweets (and really, baking) isn’t my thing and she makes delicious treats!

Let me know if you end up using any of these recipes – happy planning!

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A healthy eating series focusing on simple, low carb/sugar dishes in 30 minutes or less. For more info on how MS affects my eating habits, click here. 

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