Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas


The leaves have already turned red and orange and there is a definite chill in the air. Everyone is enjoying the bounty of the fall harvest. Thanksgiving Day will be here before you know it. With that comes making plans for your holiday meal. This can stress some people out. But, there is no need to worry. Just stick to the traditional menu options that everyone expects and keep it simple. Here are some easy ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner that you might want to try.

1. Appetizers

Cheese and fruit are a perfect and easy pairing for an appetizer. Try baked brie with apples and toasted baguette slices. Another appetizer idea is deviled eggs. Hard boil the eggs the day before so you have a jump start on that.

Deviled Eggs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 to 12

6 large eggs
1/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons pickle relish
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Paprika for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, place the eggs in a single layer. Do this in batches if necessary. Cover the eggs with enough water so that there is 1-1/2 inches of liquid above the eggs. Turn the burner onto high and heat until the water begins to boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 14 minutes.

2. Rinse the eggs under cold water continuously for 1 minute. Then, carefully peel the eggs under cool running water. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to drain.

3. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks into a medium bowl, being careful not to break the whites. Place the whites on a serving platter.

4. Using a fork, mash the yolks. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

5. Equally fill each egg white half with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with cocktail napkins.

2. Entrée

Unless you and your guests are vegan, roast turkey is generally the main event at the Thanksgiving table. The smell of it cooking can be intoxicating. This recipe doesn’t require much work, other than basting the bird. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Roast Turkey

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2-1/2 to 3 hours
Serves: 8 to 12

1 (12 pound turkey), thawed if frozen
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 apple, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, cut in half

1. Take the turkey out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before roasting it. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

2. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey. Use these to make a broth for gravy. Give the turkey a quick rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack inside a roasting pan. Remember to thoroughly clean your sink with hot, soapy water.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture all over the turkey, inside and out. Fill the cavity with as much of the apple, orange, and lemon as will fit. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wing tips underneath the body.

4. Place the turkey in the oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer, approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours or 15 minutes per pound. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the pan juices.

5. If the turkey begins to darken too quickly and there is still a substantial amount of cooking time left, cover it loosely with foil.

6. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Use the pan juices to make your gravy.

7. Discard the fruit stuffing from the cavity. Carve the turkey and serve with sides and gravy.

3. Side Dishes

Every Thanksgiving dinner needs mashed potatoes and colorful fall vegetables. The potatoes are fairly easy to pull together. For another vegetable dish, consider a classic green bean casserole that even the kids will eat. Simple honey glazed carrots is another favorite that the vegetarians in the family will enjoy.

Honey Glazed Carrot

Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Serves: 6

1-1/2 pounds carrots, washed and peeled
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the carrots into coins. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the water and carrots. Bring to a boil and cook the carrots until just soft, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to medium and add the butter. Sauté for another 5 minutes until the liquid has boiled down.

3. Stir in the honey and orange juice. Heat through until coated and hot.

4. Place in a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

4. Dessert

Except for the turkey, dessert might be the favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, assuming everyone has room for more food. Traditionally, pies are served for this holiday dessert course. Pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat are typical. Here is a super easy pumpkin pie recipe that you can make a day ahead of time.

Easy Pumpkin Pie

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: approximately 45 minutes
Serves: 8

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (15 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large whole eggs
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice mixture
1 (9 inch) frozen pie crust

1. Take the pie crust out of the freezer and follow the directions on whether to thaw, use frozen, or pre-bake. Not all pie crusts are the same. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add pumpkin puree, condensed milk, eggs, and spices. Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer, process the filling until smooth and well combined.

3. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Place in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling is set or a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Cool and serve in wedges.


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