Countdown to Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for Thanksgiving.  I get to cook mass quantities of some of my favorite foods for other people to eat…kind of my favorite thing!  This is Josh & my third Thanksgiving away from the Midwest.  We miss being back home with family, but are very happy to share the holiday with good friends here in Charlottesville.

I will be sharing tips and recipes with you everyday leading up to Turkey Day.  Today I will give you a look at the menu that I am preparing to go with the delicious sides and desserts that our guests are bringing and my tips on planning for the big day.  I’ve placed an * next to the recipes I will definitely be posting, with the hopes of sharing more.

Thanksgiving Feast 2011 Menu

Appetizers    I’m keeping it really simple this year

Cheese & Crackers – We’re planning on buying a couple of good quality cheeses (probably a cheddar and a gouda) with 2 or 3 kinds of crackers

Salami – This along with the cheese and crackers are pretty typical Midwest appetizers, nothing wrong with that 🙂

Olives – A quick detour to the olive bar at the grocery store will provide a delicious addition to the appetizers.  I’m hoping to grab a good  assortment (6 or more kinds) of  olives and stuffed olives.

Cashews – Toasted and then jazzed up with spices.  I’m thinking I’ll do spicy cashews (with chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc) and rosemary cashews.

See what I mean by simple?!  These are things I can have ready to go in a snap and without having to use valuable oven space.

Side Dishes     I’m a geek for side dishes.  My husband will vouch for that.

*Mashed Potatoes & Gravy – I should say the most luxurious mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten.  The gravy’s not bad either.

*Stuffing – This has become the star of our Thanksgiving meals.  It’s rustic, simple, delicious, hearty, flavorful….you get the picture.

Scalloped Corn – A great twist on regular old corn and super easy to prepare

Oatmeal Dinner Rolls  & Crescent Rolls – Both recipes courtesy of my mom.  Also, the perfect utensil to clean your plate.

*Cranberry Sauce – As much as I like the can-shaped blob that you can buy, the real thing is just soooo much better

Main Event

*TURKEY!!! – The scrumptious focal point on the table.  You’ll need a nap after this meal.

Dessert     I don’t think I’ve mentioned how much I love pumpkin to you yet.  If I was stuck on a deserted island, I would want pumpkin pie with me.  And cheese.  I’m not even embarrassed by this, you can judge me if you want.

Pumpkin Pie – Duh, it’s a Thanksgiving staple.

*Pecan Pie – I’m going to put my big girl pants on this year and get over my dislike of pecans.  Wish me luck.

My #1 Tip

Make a schedule!  I start by making a list of all of the dishes that I am going to make with the recipes by my side.  This list will help me make a solid grocery list and figure out the prep/cook time for each dish so that I don’t run out of oven space.  The list also allows me to plan out the days leading to Thursday.  Here’s a list I’ve started:

Friday night

Go grocery shopping.  Make a good list in hopes that we won’t have to make anymore trips there during the crazy busy days before Thanksgiving.


Make sure any table linens we will be using are washed and ready to go.

Figure out decorations for the table.


Figure out which baking dishes and serving platters/bowls we will be using.  Label them if you’re a nerd cool like me

Start cleaning up the house

Take turkey out of the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw


Make pie crusts and stick them in the freezer

Make cranberry sauce

Continue cleaning the house


Make brine for turkey & allow to cool.  That night, put the turkey in the brine to sit overnight.

Make the pies using the pie crust prepared yesterday.

Make both kinds of rolls.

Prep veggies for the stuffing (dice up and put in fridge overnight).  Also, cut the bread into cubes to allow to dry out overnight.

Get scalloped corn prepped (all ready to go in the oven).

Make mashed potatoes.  If I run out of time, no problem-they can be made on Thursday.

If time, slice cheese and salami for appetizers.

Set the table before going to bed.


Finish any last-minute house cleaning (which means the bathroom…boo)

Turkey in oven 3 hours before dinner starts.

Finish making the stuffing with the bread and veggies prepped yesterday 2 hours before dinner starts.

Put mashed potatoes in crock pot on low a few hours before dinner starts.

Put the scalloped corn in the oven 1 hour before dinner.

Make the jazzed up cashews (only takes 10-15 min).

Get rest of appetizers plated (cheese, crackers, olives, salami) and make sure they’re on the table before guests arrive.

Put the rolls in foil and in the oven around 20 minutes before dinner to warm them back up.

When the turkey is out of the oven, start making the gravy.

Look in the mirror before guests arrive to make sure I don’t look like a hot mess.

Get everything on the table and dig in!

This isn’t as overwhelming as it may appear.  I find that planning the days leading up to Thanksgiving is a huge help!  I make a list because I like lists.  If that doesn’t suit your fancy, just make sure you’ve looked at your recipes and have formed a game plan.

I’m sure there will be moments when I’m running around the house like a lunatic, but I will just remind myself how much I love Thanksgiving and how thankful I am for the food and fellowship that I will have that day.

Let me know if you have a preference in which recipes I share first!

The race to Thanksgiving begins!

2 thoughts on “Countdown to Thanksgiving!

  1. Jeez Melissa, I didn’t know this was a week long affair. Makes me more appreciative of the last two years and more sad that I’ll be missing Thanksgiving with you guys this year. 😦

    Nice blog though, we’ll keep up with the recipes!

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