I’m going to go out on a limb here. Yes, a long limb that’s the total opposite of what I preach.
Kind of. Not 100%, but close.
I’m going to share my ultimate Thanksgiving Holiday dinner menu, and how to remain stress-free on turkey day.
Excited yet? You should be!
I’ve been making these recipes every year for the past 10 years or so, and hopefully I’ll be able to pass them down one day.
Now for those of you who don’t know, I have sort of a superhero, and she’s pretty badass. You might know her.
Her name is Martha Stewart.
Let me just tell you, I’m kind of obsessed with her. Every recipe I’ve ever tried of hers, any product of hers I’ve ever bought has never let me down. She’s pretty much like the long lost relative I’ve never met, who’s been put into my life to somehow make it better.
Anywho, back to my point. Rewind to over 10 years ago, when I used to ponder over what kind of turkey I was going to make. Every year, I had this problem, not knowing which recipe to follow, not sure how it was going to come out. Until one day I stumbled upon Martha Stewart’s recipe for Cranberry Glazed Turkey.
I don’t really think I can say enough about this turkey recipe. Not only is it tender, juicy, and full of flavor, but it depicts exactly what the perfect turkey should look like on Thanksgiving.
Don’t worry, I posted some pictures below so y’all can start drooling.
Ever since then, I’ve been making this turkey for myself, my family, and my friends. They all agree that it’s not only visually appealing, but it’s the best turkey they’ve ever tasted.
Let’s be honest, the turkey or the ham is probably the healthiest thing on your table on Thanksgiving. It’s the centerpiece, the focal point, and it’s the protein.
I will admit, the recipe for the Cranberry Turkey isn’t the healthiest, however….
We live in 2019. There are so many ways to substitute so many ingredients that it’s just insane! Now I’m not saying you can’t go all out one day a year – I certainly do. I’m also the one who does all the cooking, and I do it all from scratch. But by doing that, I’m also eliminating the boxed stuffing by making my own. Subtracting the cream of mushroom soup by making it from scratch. In doing this, I’m able to control the ingredients one by one that I’m putting into each dish.
Here’s my Thanksgiving Holiday menu with links to some of the recipes:
- Cranberry Turkey
- Cranberry Glaze for the Turkey
- Simple Stuffing (I add craisins, chopped apples, and either pecans or walnuts)
- Green Bean Casserole
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Greek Village Salad
- Dessert (It varies from year to year)
If you decide to make the cranberry turkey (which I highly suggest), and you can’t find cheesecloth, there is a link for it here. For the first couple of years, I wasn’t able to find cheesecloth anywhere. So I’d settle for coffee filters. Now that they sell it where I go grocery shopping, I pick it up every Thanksgiving. And it’s much easier to use than the coffee filters.
Here are some great substitutions if you’re looking to make this Thanksgiving Holiday a little healthier:
- Use whole wheat flour or almond flour instead of white
- Skip the mashed taters, and make the sweet potato casserole
- Try a healthier butter such as Smart Balance Light, or a plant-based butter
- Skip the boxed stuffing and make one from scratch, where you can add in your favorite fruits or meats, like this one: Simple Stuffing
- Forgo the can of cream of mushroom soup, and try a different homemade variation of the green bean casserole
I try and eliminate whatever processed foods I can during Thanksgiving. Even though I know the boxed stuff is a hell of a lot easier. There are ways to help simplify your life on Thanksgiving, though.
Here are a few suggestions I have for you if you’re doing all or most of the cooking:
- Chopping: chop anything you can the night before, store them in airtight containers and refrigerate them until you’re ready to use them the next day. For my cranberry turkey, I slice my red onions the night before (as I cry uncontrollably), get my onions and celery chopped for my stuffing, and go over my food list to make sure I can pre-chop anything I can to save myself that much more time the day of.
- Baking: since I make stuffing from scratch, I buy two loaves of fresh Italian bread from the bakery at my local grocery store. If I let them sit out overnight, they don’t become tough enough. So I’ll bake them the night before, and get them ready to go to throw into the stuffing when I’m ready to make it.
- Mix: mix anything you can as early as you can, and keep it refrigerated til you’re ready to heat it up. For example, I’ll make my mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole one or two days before Thanksgiving. They heat up well, and it’s two dishes that I can eliminate while I’m focusing on the turkey and the green bean casserole. Use a crockpot to keep your mashed potatoes, or mashed sweet potatoes warm, if you don’t want to use a microwave.
- Desserts: if you’re making pies, get them ready to go, and then store them in the freezer, covered until you’re ready to bake them. I suggest baking them once the turkey is done, and the oven is still hot. For me personally, the turkey takes up a lot of space, and I don’t have a lot of room left to work with. I just make sure I keep a timer on the dessert, so I don’t forget it’s in there (nothing worse than a burnt pumpkin pie.)
- Make a Checklist a Day or Two Before: make sure you have all your ingredients, all the right utensils, baking supplies, cooking supplies, and equipment (roasting pan, turkey baster, casserole dishes, that you may need so you’re not rushing out last minute to grab anything. Most stores aren’t open on Thanksgiving anyway, so it’s always best to be prepared. Make a list – and check it twice!
- Breathe: Don’t forget to breathe and relax. Have a cup of coffee, or if you’re feeling extra, pour a glass of wine to relax you. It’s Thanksgiving, and what’s more important than the food, is the people we’re surrounded by. Give thanks to those and to all you have this year.
And there it is – my cranberry turkey that’s become a Thanksgiving Holiday tradition for the past decade. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful, nor does it have to be completely unhealthy. There are ways to make your holiday a little more stress-less by prepping in advance, and by asking for some help from friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are more than happy to give a helping hand during the holidays, especially when they know the pressure is all on you!
If you have the extra time, try making some recipes from scratch, and prep them before hand. You’ll eliminate some calories and some processed foods that can contribute to weight gain around the holidays.
I truly wish you and your family a Wonderful, Happy, and Healthy Thanksgiving Holiday! As always, thank you for reading!
Kisses and hugs, love bugs!