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My sisters spend Thanksgiving elsewhere and Hubster and I go to my in-laws informal buffet style dinner on this holiday. A few years ago I started my own Thanksgiving tradition (being my mother’s favorite holiday). I have an early or late Thanksgiving feast every year. Inviting my In-Laws, my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews. I also invited two of my best friends (they are my family). I like Thanksgiving to be the holiday where everyone is gathered around one table, together. I love to work hard and prepare this scrumptious feast for the family I’m so thankful to have in my life. Each year I tweak my recipes and there’s always something for everyone. This year, I would like to set up a Christmas Gingerbread House craft for my niece, nephews and son to make together.

The day before I arrange fall color flowers in vases filled with cranberries for my centerpieces, I press and fold cloth napkins, set the table and chill the champagne.

At meal time, I say our standard grace then we go around the table each sharing one thing for which we’re thankful. Then we toast with champagne and sparkling cider and dig into our feast.Thanksgiving Table

Many of the recipes can be prepped or put together the day before and baked the day of the feast.

I soak the turkey in apple and orange juice for a few hours (or the day before). I stuff the turkey with a quartered cored apple, a few split celery stalks, a quartered onion (which someone else has to cut… although Rachel Ray says a chilled onion causes less tears), fresh chopped sage, fresh chopped rosemary. I rub sage and rosemary under the skin and rub orange zest on top of the skin. Then I roast according to the package directions for an unstuffed turkey and baste every so often.

Gravy – I blend together the turkey juice dripping (avoiding the grease) with enough cornstarch to thicken (usually becomes my moms job). The trick is to make it without the clumps is to take some of the juice and mix it with the cornstarch to make a paste, before adding it to the rest of the juice.

Stuffing – I do not like mushy stuffing, so I bake mine separate from the bird. The day before I cube a loaf of french bread and let it harden. The day of the feast, I saute onions and celery in butter with sage and parsley. I took the saute off the heat  and mix in cran-raisins, thyme, marjoram, pepper, salt 1 c. chicken broth and EVOO (add more chicken broth if needed). I tossed in the bread and spread the mixture in casserole dish, bake for 40 minutes at 350°F.Stuffing

Spicy Green Bean Casserole – Last year I learned that if I’m using fresh green beans, I need to steam them first! I mix together a can of cream of celery soup with diced jalepeÑos. I coat the green beans, toss with cream mixture and then transfer to a baking dish. I top with French’s Onions and bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes.

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole – I boil the sweet potatoes and set aside to cool. I core & slice four apples and dip them in lemon juice (One year I want to use pears instead). I cut the sweet potatoes into large cubes, mix in the apples and pecans. I toss with melted butter and about 1 c. of brown sugar. I sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg overtop, add a few more pats of butter and bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes.

Succotash – I cook together Lima beans & sweet corn and bake at 350°F until warm.

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce – I steam asparagus and whip up my Hollandaise sauce to drizzle on top.

Creamy Dill Mashed Potatoes – My SIL’s bf doesn’t like lumpy mashed potatoes, but I love the flavor and texture of the skin. I boil the potatoes then drain the water. I use my hand mixer to whip in a container of sour cream and dill weed.

Cornbread Souffle – Mix together 1 can of cream corn, 1 c. corn kernels, 1 16 oz. container sour cream, a pouch of cornbread mix and an egg.  Transfer into baking dish and bake at 350°F for an hour (toothpick inserted in middle should come out clean).

Cheddar Biscuits – Mix together 5 c. Bisquick mix,  1/2 c. milk, 1 stick butter, 1 tsp. garlic, 1 tsp. parsley flakes and 2 c. cheddar cheese. Drop biscuit mixture onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400°F. Brush tops with melted butter mixed with garlic powder and parsley flakes.Cheddar Biscuits & Cornbread Mini Muffins

Cornbread Muffins – Bakes in my mini muffin pans.

Homemade Butter – Whip together heavy whipping cream, salt and preferred herbs. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Caeser Salad – I chop up romaine lettuce, top if off with croutons and drizzle my homemade Caeser dressing over top (I mix together 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c. Romano cheese, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, fresh black pepper, 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1/3 c. EVOO).

Cauliflower Casserole – This dish is from my MIL’s MIL (haha, my GIL). I usually make it, however she likes to bring a dish, So I had her bring it this year.

Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Vanilla or Cinnamon Ice-cream -Served with homemade whipped cream and tea or cinnamon coffee.Pumpkin Pie a la Mode

My Dad makes a delicious cranberry pineapple relish although I still have the canned kind for some of the kiddies. My mother usually makes pearled onions (although three supermarkets didn’t have pearl onions). In the past I’ve made a ham in addition to the turkey, my FIL and Hubster love my ham recipe, but I’ll have to find another occasion for them to enjoy that dish.

The chaffing dishes and steam bar worked wonders this year! I didn’t remember to take pictures of the food until ex post facto, maybe next year I’ll get a picture of my glorious bird and sides.

I cook the gizzards early in the morning for my dog and cat to enjoy. Leave a comment and let me know what are your holiday traditions? What are your favorite holiday recipes. The only thing missing is listening to the parade in the background in the morning.