Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving meal is my favorite meal of the year.  Always has been.  It is a time where the aroma of delicious food cooking drifts into every corner of the home.  You long for pumpkin pies, turkey drizzled with gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.  Just the thought of this meal makes my mouth water with excitement.  

Mom always made the best Thanksgiving dinners.  It was traditional, always the same, and always the best.  I would like to share some simple recipes on how we prepare our Thanksgiving Dinner.  This year I am far from from the home that I grew up in.  Far from mom.  So I will be doing all the preparations alone.  I am going to be the mom that my kids will remember making the best Thanksgiving Dinner.  They will tell people about their mom’s special feasts that were prepared with love.

Since my parents will not be here, I have invited friends who are like family to us now, to join in our celebration.  We want to celebrate another year and give thanks for all that the Lord has given to us.  What better way than have a feast filled with delicious foods.  Some of the ladies are bringing side dishes.  I am making the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the gravy, and the pumpkin pies.  

When cooking for lots of people, you have to think BIG.  I have to prepare a meal fit for about 34 guests!  That means I need to make sure I make enough turkey.  I did not raise my turkeys this year, but I remember when my husband raised and slaughtered one that we raised on our farm which was 24 pounds.  I plucked and dressed it myself!  That was neat!  I would like to do that again sometime because that turkey was tasty, I must say!

I bought two 22 pound turkeys, so there will be plenty.  Any leftovers will be used to make all kinds future meals for my family.  I like to put the turkey breast up in the roaster pan.  It cooks all day.  I baste it with its own juices.  It is then seasoned with onions and celery chopped and stuffed inside the bird and around the turkey, as well as a liberal dusting of onion powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic, and tarragon.    I set my cooker on 350˚F and allow it to cook for 4 or 5 hours depending on the weight of the bird.  Most turkeys that you buy will have cooking instructions as to how many hours the bird will need to cook. 

When the bird is cooked (It should be tender enough to be pulled off from the bone easily).  My mom always said, “When the meat is falling off the bone, it is ready.”  Some people use pop up sensors but I never liked messing with them.  If you use a meat thermometer, it is done when the temperature reaches 180˚ F. 

After the meat is fully cooked and “falling off the bone,”  I debone the turkey, pulling every bone out, so the meat remains.  Some people carve the turkey breast, but I like to separate the meat and allow it to rest in the juices until served as pictured below.  This keeps the meat moist and hot (keep your cooker on low and covered  just in case  your dinner gets delayed). 

The Turkey Gravy is easy to make.  You just take some of your drippings and juices of the turkey and put it into a sauce pan.  I bring it to a boil and then add some cornstarch that has been dissolved into a little water.  About 1/4 cup water with about 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch.  I never measure but I add until I get the desired thickness.  Just add a little of the cornstarch mixture and stir.  Add more as needed until you have what you need for thickness. 
Mashed Potatoes
Next on the list is mashed potatoes.  I generally make about 20 lbs of mashed potatoes for a group of people the size I will be having.  Figure about 1/2-1 lb for each person.  It is that easy.  I like to have extra so we can enjoy another turkey dinner the following day.  It is always good the second time around.  Peel and quarter the potatoes.  Put them into a large stock pot.  Mine is huge.  I love huge pots. I like to have the big guns when I am feeding a lot of people. 

Get the water to a boil and let boil until you can poke the potatoes with a fork and they are soft.

Drain the potatoes.  My husband’s grandmother’s recipe for mashed potatoes is still the best I have had.  We add an 8 oz stick of cream cheese, a stick of butter, and season with salt.  If you are using a hand masher like we use, mash up the potatoes smoothly first before adding anything else.  If you add your fixings in there prematurely, it will result in clumpy taters! 

I learned that trick from the Amish.  I was so used to using the hand electric mixer, and when I went off grid, we did not have one and boy did I find out how to build some good arm strength when you mash potatoes by hand.  Add a little milk if you like them a bit smoother and fluffier.  Add sparingly, because you can’t take the liquid out once it is combined.  Better to have thicker potatoes than thin and runny any day!  The butter and cream cheese sure do make the taters nice and creamy.  Delightful, actually. 

Mom always made the best stuffing ever.  Okay, first off, mom uses Stove Top, so I will tell you how she makes it even though some of you will cringe.  I know, packaged foods are not the best, but mom says, “What’s the difference, it’s not like you eat Stove Top every day.”  True.  Plus it makes it a little easier.  When you are making a big spread you just do not have the time always to do everything from scratch.  I always like to err on the side of balance.  Plus it is kinda cheap right now.  I bought them for $1.25 each on sale. 

Well, here goes the stuffing:
For every package of Stove Top stuffing, you add 1 pound of raw ground meat.  Because I am having a big crowd, I will be making four packages.  That means, let’s do the math…4 pounds of raw ground meat.  I am using 1/2 venison and 1/2 ground pork.  That is what mom always does, since it is around deer hunting season, we always have a bit of ground venison on hand. 

Prepare the stuffing as directed on the packaging which is super easy and practically takes no brains at all to accomplish.  Put all the stuffing into a large baking pan and mix pieces of your raw ground meat into the stuffing.  I like to try to evenly distribute the meat.  Next, you put the pan into the oven at 350˚F for about30-40 minutes or until you can see that the meat is cooked.  This is a real treat, let me tell ya!  With the raw meat and its juices cooking into the stuffing, wow, that is tasty!  I have a photo, but sadly too many people took some before I could photograph it in its prettiest stage.  Oh well. 

One thing mom makes sure we have on the side is some cranberry sauce, green beans, and her famous cole slaw.  The fresh cranberry relish is pretty simple to fix up.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4-1 cup sugar

Put the cranberries and sugar into a sauce pan over the stove top.  Cook together until the cranberries pop on medium heat.  Then they are done.
Makes about 3 cups.

Mom’s Cole Slaw
1 head of green cabbage chopped finely shredded
1/2 of an onion finely shredded
Sprinkle salt and pepper (
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
Mix together, taste and make sure if it is too sour, add more sugar, but not too much.
Add mayo until it is somewhat thick.  1/2 quart of mayo to the liquid sauce.  Whip it up until a little thick.  Dump over the cabbage and make sure to mix in together thoroughly.  Leave set for several hours because this will flavor and the juices come through the cabbage.  Keep in the refrigerator and stir before serving. 

Green Beans
Very straight forward and easy.  You can either use fresh beans and cut them up into 1-2 inch segments or use the frozen green beans that are already cut up.  Put in crock pot or kettle on the stove top with enough water to steam them.  You never want to cook the been too long so you cook all the health out of them.  I like them to be a little brighter green.  When they are tender, add some butter and salt to taste. 
Sweet Potatoes
Wash and prick the sweet potatoes.  Bake 400˚F for about an hour.  When the potatoes are done, take them out and shell out the soft sweet potatoes, mash them, add butter, salt, and spoon into a nice bowl for serving.  My grandmother always spooned them into a 9x 13 baking pan and covered with small mashmallows and put back into the oven to bake until the top is nice and browned.
Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 can pure canned pumpkin
  • 1 can evaporated milk3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs

Mix all ingredients and pour into your pie crust.  I make my own crusts from scratch because I just love making pies. 

Flaky Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Beat egg until foamy and add vinegar and water.  Pour into the flour and blend until you get a form of a ball.  Let set for 15 minutes covered in your bowl.  Dust a flat surface with flour and begin rolling out the dough in all directions to make a nice flat circle shape.  I like to dust the top with a little flour and make sure my dough is not sticking to my table.  When it is thin enough for my liking, and we like our crusts thin and crisp, I fold the circle in half and then in quarters to keep it from breaking apart.  I lay the quarter piece unfolded into the pie plate and unfold it to fit perfectly.  I trim the excess off the pie plate and score it with a fork. 

Pour the Pumpkin pie mixture into the pie crust and place into the 425˚F preheated oven.  I bake it for about 10 minutes at that temperature and then turn the dial down to about 350˚F for the remaining 40 to 50 minutes.  Every once in awhile I check to see if the pie is starting to crack a little on the top which is a sign that it is ready.  Or I jiggle it to see if the contents are soupy yet.  You can also stick a knife into the top gently to see if it comes out clean, that is also a good way to know it is finished baking.  Chill the pie for several hours and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream on top.  That is one of my favorite treats. 

I hope this post has been a blessing.  It would be great to have feedback to know how my recipes turn out for you and your family.  I pray you will have a blessed Thanksgiving dinner.  Join me tomorrow as I share a few fun crafts, games, and some table setting tips. 

Also, congratulations to Courtney Mount and Brooke Church for winning the giveaway for the Cookbooks.  I am so excited to find out what they like about the cookbook call Good and Healthy Cooking

We are running some pretty big sales in our Homestead Store as well as my Keeper of the Homestead Store this Thanksgiving weekend.  Books will be 40% off.  DVDs will be 50% off.  My Super Green Drink Mix will be 25% off and my daughter homemade baby quilts will be 25% off as well.  We hope the sale will be a blessing for you as you are thinking about getting presents for your loved ones. 

0 thoughts on “Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

  1. Easiest gravy making ever! I love the idea of letting the turkey soak in the juices. Brilliant. Your layonnaise green beans from awhile ago were the star at a supper I gave to friends. You’re a blessing in so many ways- helping me in my marriage!!!!!!!

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