Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Prep 101

Thanksgiving is my favorite cooking holiday. And that’s saying something, because I love, love, love to cook.

Last year, even as a rather rotund pregnant, bed-rest lady—my Dad and I achieved a whole new level in our Thanksgiving culinary expression. We’ve been honing our skills for 10-years now. I’m not sure who is the chef and who the sous-chef in our cozy pair; that pretty much depends on whose selected recipe we are working on at any given moment.

Anyway – it was a triumph. And I can’t wait for this year. I start my planning early, and devote time to menu development and even centerpiece, linen, and place card theme.

Yup. I’m dork. Love it!

But I am looking for menu insight.

Here was last year’s menu – and I am currently working on this year’s, with the goal of it being ready at the end of the weekend.

The big difference, 2-turkeys.

I order my turkey from Mannino’s Market in Cottleville, and they only go up to a 24-pound bird. Even Straub’s in STL stops there. And with our guest list, I need at least 30-pounds, plus Leon loves leftovers and we will have family in town, so I really want 35-pounds.

That’s a lotta bird.

But the question before us: do we do the SAME recipe on both, or go a little crazy and do something really fun with the second?

Okay – back to that menu:

  • Roasted Brined Turkey stuffed with citrus, garlic and herbs (yum-OOOO!)
  • Citrus Turkey Gravy (a recipe of Liz Gaunt, preparred by her mother-in-law that was awesome, awesome, awesome!)
  • Wild porcini mushroom, chestnut, and sausage dressing (note to self: don’t be a hero this year and try to roast and peel your own chestnuts, OW – I have no fingerprints left – go buy at Straub’s)
  • Martha’s Mashed Potatoes (yum – a staple, and a must-do because Leon has a deep aversion to any sort of “weird” potatoes. Remind me to tell story about our first Thanksgiving and Gret’s fancy potatoes … it involved herbs and gruyere)
  • Brussels Sprouts and Almond Creamy Casserole (a delicious recipe from my dear, dear friend Krista – amazing and I don’t usually LIKE Brussels sprouts!)
  • Trinity Lutheran’s Cranberry Relish (small country parish, nuff’ said)

  • Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes (this is the recipe that never ends. Over the years, we have halved it, and halved it again and still could feed a small brigade; I am done with this recipe. Its departure opens up a coveted slot for some other noble veggie to claim … hmmm, see the poll in the margin!)
  • Herb Cheddar Biscuits (a MUST do – courtesy of my Martha Stewart Living 1999 magazine … yummmmmm)
  • Dollar rolls (yes, the cheap brown-n-serve, I love 'em and therefore they earn a spot amongst all the fancy sides!)
  • German Chocolate Pecan Pie (this replaced my standard Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, which I think needs to make a return because it’s my personal favorite … although, according to my notes from 2007 it was a keeper – and yes, I keep notes in my cool monogrammed recipe binder that Leon got me from Williams Sonoma (yeah!). It has a whole section for recording holiday menus … triumphs as well as failures … hmmm… what to do)
  • Traditional Pumpkin Pie

  • Rolling Meadows Vineyards White Niagara

I am going to bring back some sort of delicious sweet potato dish. I have a recipe for a sweet potato gratin, but Martha also just released her famous sweet potato spoon bread ... I also found this recipe for a Potato Mushroom Pie that looks to be amazing ... Decisions, decisions!

But here's where I would love ideas:

  • A bird recommendation
  • A new veggie pick (see the poll, and you can check the recipes out at
  • And any great, must-do, must-have recipes that you think I should add.

I actually haven’t put any of my Thanksgiving recipes onto our family recipe site – call me evil …. Hehehehe … I just really want to be that great-great-great-grandma whose herb cheddar biscuits just can’t be replicated beyond the grave.

You know? The stuff from which true legacy is made.


Jodi Nierman said...

I have a sweet potato favorite from my family. It's actually super easy, with beautiful table display. Some of the ingredients are fresh cranberries, marshmallows, brown sugar/ oatmeal. Email me and I will let you know the secrets!!!
Jodi Nierman

alaina said...

Have you visited food blog ?
She's local to St. Louis and writes all about seasonal locally available vegetables. All kinds of recipes! yum!

t.leaf + k said...

I can vouch for Jameson Thanksgivings ... they are AWESOME! Yum. ;-)

Katrina said...

Mmmmm...yeah, I can't wait! I think I'll stop eating NOW to make sure I come REALLLY hungry and have lots'a room! Hey, have you read your book yet?? ;) I think we should go see the movie on Wednesday night! I can't wait!!

Chelsea & Nick said...

Would you be interested in posting any of your recipes or are they classified? (No I am not hoping to throw a TG dinner together last minute, but it would be fantastic to have a little file going)

-Herbed cheddar biscuits (are you kidding?!? YUM!)
-Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes (always looking for something different)
-Wild porcini mushroom, chestnut, and sausage dressing
-Citrus Turkey Gravy
-Roasted Brined Turkey